Santa Monica

Weekend: Big Holiday Light Displays Start to Sparkle

LA Zoo Lights, Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens, and Winterlit in Downtown Santa Monica get the seasonal glow going.

Jamie Pham/Descanso Gardens/Downtown Santa Monica

What to Know

  • LA Zoo Lights twinkles at the Los Angeles Zoo from Nov. 19, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022
  • Enchanted Forest of Light glimmers at Descanso Gardens from Nov. 21, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022
  • The annual tree lighting for Downtown Santa Monica's Winterlit happens on Nov. 19, 2021

Holiday Lights: Our mid-November mood? Bring us all the bulbs, every last twinkle, and all of the sparkle that can be merrily mustered. We're ready to experience some ethereal, after-sunset scenes, the twinkly trees, cool light tunnels, and offbeat installations that are fully illuminated. And three of Southern California's major twinklefests are ready for their pre-Thanksgiving debut: LA Zoo Lights, Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens, and the tree lighting at Winterlit in Downtown Santa Monica. LA Zoo and Descanso Gardens are ticketed, Winterlit is free to see.

The Great Los Angeles Walk: Connecting with a free, spirit-raising, and community-cool happening just days ahead of Thanksgiving? Many urban-adventuring Angelenos have done just that over the last 16 years, thanks to this annual Saturday-before-Thanksgiving ramble across the city. And we do mean "across," for this long walk has taken on some of our biggest boulevards. On Nov. 20, the walk will be shorter but still 13 miles: San Gabriel Mission to Olvera Street is the history-minded path. The group will head further into DTLA in the early afternoon, if you're interested.

The Science of Gingerbread: What's the yummy fragrance in the air? It's time for the mega, spicy-of-scent, super-adorable gingerbread house display to go on view at Discovery Cube OC or Discovery Cube LA. But Nov. 20 is also a momentous date for anyone who'd like to compete in the exhibit's annual confection competition. Why? That's the first day you can begin dropping off your gumdrop-laden, candy-covered building, which will then join a display that is sure to grow in the weeks ahead. You'll want to read up on the rules, and check out the prizes, too. Also? Perusing winners from bygone years is always helpful in the inspiration department.

A 'Nostalgic Christmas' at Santa's Village: Getting to the North Pole? Let's be honest: You're going to have more than a few layovers, and plane changes, and you may need book an overnight stay or two at a penguin-owned B&B. But reaching a destination that's very much like the North Pole, only one that's located in Southern California, is quite possible. It's SkyPark at Santa's Village we speak of, that mid-century gem, a collection of cottages and outdoor experiences that delight festive-minded families, mountain bikers, and anyone seeking a bit of seasonal splendor in the mountains. And this is super-sweet: The annual Christmas fun is just kicking off, for a merry multi-week run. Details? Ho, ho, ho.

Hitchcock Fest: The nights are arriving earlier, we're seeking out our light but cozy sweaters, and the movie-loving mind is turning to the sorts of cinematic treats that scare a little, thrill a little, and have plenty of panache and gravitas, in equal measure. For plenty of cineastes, that means an Alfred Hitchcock-helmed film, and the Hollywood Legion Theater will have several of 'em, starting on Nov. 19. The great "Rear Window" with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly launches the series, so grab your high-powered lens, and your comfiest viewing-the-building-next-door pajamas, and make for this Tinseltown landmark. All the films? They're right here.

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